Meningitis Disease, Symptoms, Causes And Treatment
What is Meningitis?
Meningitis disease caused by a bacterium or a virus that is often found in the throat or nose of healthy people, which can infect others causing inflammation in the meninges, the membranes of connective tissue that cover the entire central nervous system, adding a soft protection that complements the bone structure. This disease affects, above all, young children and adolescents
Types of meningitis
- Meningococcal Meningitis:
Corresponds to the clinical manifestation of the infection caused by the bacteria “Neisseria meningitidis” (or meningococcus) of which there are several serogroups, the most important being A, B and C. The meningococcus can affect various organs, because when the bacteria It attacks the meninges (membranes that surround the brain), it produces the inflammation of the spinal brain fluid and then it is called “meningococcal meningitis”. On the other hand, if the infection is spread by blood, it produces a picture called “meningococcemia”, which consists of a septicemia that can occur with or without meningitis and whose evolution can be acute or fulminating. It is characterized by a rapid circulatory collapse with hemorrhagic rash. This disease can be fatal, so it is necessary to go immediately to a health facility.
- Meningitis due to Haemophilus influenzae b:
Haemophilus influenzae meningitis is caused by said bacteria. This bacterium should not be confused with influenza, an infection of the upper respiratory tract caused by the flu virus. This disease mainly affects children from 2 months to 5 years of age. Its onset may be sudden or slow and progressive confusion or coma is common. In addition to meningitis, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae b is the cause of other diseases, such as Hib pneumonia, septic arthritis, cellulitis, pericarditis and osteomyelitis.
- Viral or Aseptic Meningitis:
It is the most common form of meningitis. It is a serious disease, but rarely fatal in people with a normal immune system. The acute picture lasts 7 to 10 days. The sequelae, consisting of weakness, muscle spasm, insomnia and personality changes may last up to a year, but recovery is usually complete.
Meningitis Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of meningitis can be different for each person. The abrupt start is characteristic. In babies, the symptoms are more difficult to identify. They may include fever, restlessness or irritability, difficulty waking the baby, or the baby not wanting to eat. Sometimes spots on the skin can also appear.
Meningitis can kill a person in 24 to 48 hours and leaves neurologic and systemic sequels for life, among the most frequent symptoms can be found:
- High fever
- Stiff neck
- In more advanced cases hallucinations
- Spots on the skin
- Loss of consciousness
Meningitis Disease Causes
It is usually produced by infections, the most common and at the same time less serious is viral meningitis, the other variant, the bacterial can have much more serious consequences. It can cause brain damage and even death, in addition to infections, meningitis can be caused by fungi, tumors or other viruses such as mumps.
Normally it is spread through saliva and to a lesser extent with objects, spring and autumn are the times when it usually appears mostly in schools
Meningitis Disease Treatment
For most viral meningitis, there is no vaccine.
Vaccines against bacterial meningitis:
- Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib):
The treatment of the infection consists of a sustained and intensive cycle of antibiotics. Since July 1996, the vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae b, with a three-dose schedule, at two, four and six months of age, has been included in the Chilean compulsory vaccination program. This measure protects children under one year old against invasive diseases caused by Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib), among which is Hib meningitis.
There is a specific vaccine for Meningococcus C and a combined vaccine for serogroups A and C. Both are recommended as a control measure in case of epidemic outbreaks produced by these groups, and should be administered before or during the seasonal peak. They are not recommended as a preventive measure for the general population, given that they offer little protection in children under 2 years of age, the short duration of the immunity it confers and the limited effect of boosting revaccination. The application of these vaccines depends on the evaluation carried out by the health authorities in each outbreak situation and the determination of the effectiveness of the different control measures. For diseases caused by Neisseria meningitidis B, there is still no effective vaccine.
- Viral or Aseptic Meningitis:
There are no specific antivirals for the treatment of viral meningitis, so it is only recommended to rest, ingest large amounts of fluid and medications to reduce fever, relieve headache or treat complications. In immunosuppressed or severely ill people, serious infections can be avoided with the use of immunoglobulins.